McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 

McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks court to block release of tax returns to Congress | Private sector adds 330K jobs in July, well short of expectations Senate panel advances first three spending bills McConnell lays out GOP demands for government-funding deal MORE (R-Ky.) is urging President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE to "pull back from the brink" from an international fight over tariffs, warning they could start a "trade war."

"I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war, and I hope we pull back from the brink here," McConnell said at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Congressional Summit in Kentucky on Friday, according to the local business journal.

"These tariffs will not be good for the economy, and I worry that it will slow, or impede significantly, the progress we're making economically," McConnell added.

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The Republican leader's comments are the latest sign of GOP backlash after the Trump administration announced Thursday that it would make good on a threat to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada, ending an exemption for the key trading allies.

McConnell has repeatedly warned the administration against such trade moves, particularly over concerns that steep tariffs could roil the economy and spark retaliation from other countries. 

"It won't surprise you to know that I'm among those not happy about the prospect of a trade war," the Senate GOP leader said Friday.

McConnell is one of several GOP lawmakers who have spoken out against Trump's tariff decision.

"I disagree with this decision," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTo cut poverty and solve the labor shortage, enhance the Earned Income Tax Credit Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday

Meanwhile,  GOP Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseWhite House cyber chief backs new federal bureau to track threats Sasse calls China's Xi a 'coward' after Apple Daily arrest Defunct newspaper's senior editor arrested in Hong Kong MORE (Neb.) has called the move "dumb"; Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs are a "tax hike" and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (Tenn.) argued Trump was abusing his authority to impose tariffs tied to national security.

Republicans have also been up front about the fact that they are worried Trump's trade moves could roil the economy months before a midterm election, undoing what they view as a boost from last year's tax bill. 

GOP Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.) announced on Friday that he would support legislation by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeKaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate New hurdle slows trillion infrastructure bill This week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint MORE (R-Utah) that would boost congressional oversight on Trump's tariff decisions.

But McConnell on Friday downplayed the chances that Congress would ultimately pass a bill reining in Trump's trade powers. 

The Senate GOP leader said there was "not much" lawmakers could do, noting any legislation would have to be signed by the president or have enough support to overcome a veto.

“Under the trade law, the president has pretty much all the ability to do these things, so there’s not much we can do to impact it. It’s really an executive branch activity. ... It’s just that I think many of us feel that it shouldn’t be done," McConnell told Insider Louisville. 

—Updated at 5:31 p.m.